Tuesday, May 8, 2018

chuckles the chunkle

Meanwhile in Charlieland, things have been chuggin right along. After a couple days in a row of a bellyache when his herd first began transitioning to summer pasture, Charlie has since seemed to acclimate. Which, obviously, is a huge relief.

riley dog was rooting for boyd martin at this weekend's MCTA USEA event at Shawan Downs
Homeboy just loves his grass, and I was reluctant to muzzle him. So far tho he appears to have made the transition just fine. Maybe next year tho I'll plan to have a muzzle ready to go for those first couple days, since this farm has a slightly more, uh, blunt transition to grass than other barns I've been to.

But, oh my word do they have nice pastures. Charlie's grass right now is insane. Actually obscene. And there are two more fields, each bigger than the next, waiting for him as summer wears on. His life. It ain't bad!

we got to see a lot of him too while jump crewing!
Anyway tho, like I said, things have been moving right along. Charlie was feeling well enough to try a little flatwork by the end of last week. And he felt seriously good. Like, obvi let's be real here - he felt rusty and started off behind my leg and it took a couple canter laps in each directly to feel that "channel" opening in his back, wherein he rediscovered his trot afterward.

But after that? He was good to go. Plus, no real dinosaur moments even in his sticky stuckness behind my leg before the warm up. The bronto was lurking beneath the surface for sure, but he stayed agreeable enough that we were able to get through without any real throw downs.

And again, after we had that first canter, all systems were go. We kept that ride short and fluffy - lots of focusing on shapes and changes of direction. But also a pleasant little foray into counter canter as a way to reengage Charlie's hind end, and he did quite nicely!

He's better on his stronger right lead than his left - he actually pinned his ears and got upset on the left lead counter canter. But even after a stutter step break still picked the left lead back up again without urging. Good pony! I see counter canter as being a really great exercise for Charlie bc his canter is naturally very strong, and a better gait for accessing his balance and hind end strength vs the trot.

jimmie schramm's horse eclaire looks good too!
The second flat ride found him much more willing to go forward even just in trot, such that we didn't need that preliminary canter to open him up. And his trot right now.... feels good man, feels good. We may have been a little early on the schedule for doing his hocks, but he is very clearly feeling very good about it.

Really the only sticking point right now given our quiet last few weeks is his shoulders. In some ways he's a brilliant horse to steer bc he really honestly is very sensitive. The only caveat is.... Sometimes he's.... just, like, not. And flat work is where that becomes the most obvious.

When he's got places to be, people to see, it's as easy as shifting your hips to steer him. When you're endlessly circling the same ring again and again? Yea, uh, them shoulders just sorta have a mind of their own.

i won't bore you with another full course walk, but took pics of the combos and holy trinity of xc on this walk anyway. here we have the up bank combo, which walked in what felt to me like 1.5 strides. i didn't see it ridden tho.
I was very pleased with him anyway tho bc even tho our steering wasn't great, nor our straightness, he was finding a really easy "pushing" gear from behind.

In fact we had our best "medium" trot (quotes definitely intentional) to date, tho not bc it was a true lengthening. Not yet lol. But because he was really strong and pushing - yet still round. And most importantly? He showed a clear distinction in his trot upon reaching the corner.

Again, none of this is like... correct or anything. Rather, I'm just focusing on the fact that I straightened Charlie and put my leg on. Got a difference in him, a response. Then similarly got another equivalent response upon reaching the end of the diagonal. Small steps. But very very good steps, and we quit on that.

ditch to log walked like a careful balancing three strides. small ditch, big log.
Tho naturally as is our wont, we added a little hack ride on with Brita after the school. Nothing crazy bc now that summer is arriving, all the gates are closed again as herds transition back to the summer pastures. Plus, obvi, I don't want to get my new fanceh PS of Sweden fuzzy dressage boots all nasty from crossing streams haha.

But still. It's such a nice way to add another peaceful 20min on to a ride by just hacking along some fence lines with a buddy to cool down. Charlie, for his part, seemed to seriously enjoy it and was striding out in a bigger walk than I'm used to seeing in him. I'll take it!

water was quite nice - there was a 14 coop jump before hand, then the water was 15, then this small log was 16. also there was an unflagged water earlier on course before the up bank for dipping toes in should that be needed. 
For my final ride of the weekend, I wanted to get back to a little more of a conditioning focus. Brita and I had spent hours upon hours volunteering at MCTA's Shawan Downs event this past weekend, after which I walked their N course.

Lots of good stuff to see on the course, and many of the jumps actually belong to our own farm. But... There was still a lot to learn from the walk. Namely? Yea, I'm still not sure our conditioning is there yet. This course had one jump at the top of a steep rise, and another at the bottom of a steep drop.

The jump after the rise was a let up, but the jump after the drop was not. A strung out Charlie or strung out Emma could have issues at something like that lol.

oh yea. btw. chunky chuckles. i present to you: fat kid in a donut shop lol. his life does not suck
So I immediately went back to the barn and decided to tackle all of those wonderful new paths my barn mate showed me last week. And all the hills I've discovered from the Altitude Profile app. We were able to crisscross every which way through the woods, trotting hither and thither, catching every hill possible.

Charlie, for his part, was shockingly into it. Like, nobody is calling this horse "surefooted" -- but maybe these trots through the woods are just the ticket? He was really picking those clodhoppers up (even jumping the occasional branch or downed log!) and figuring out how to see both low hanging branches AND eroded out ruts in the ground as he went. I like it!

For my part, I mostly just held on and ducked when necessary. Constantly reminding him that we were just trotting, no need to run, and occasionally flicking off wayward caterpillars and spiders lol. Honestly, that was maybe the most fun I've had doing trot sets like... ever haha.

he knows it too <3
Then we emerged into the fields (after dismounting for a gate bc we are still #gategreen) and Charlie still had a TON of gas in the tank. So... we did some banks up and down into the water; casually trotted a ditch; then made our way into another field for a BN hanging log and N ramp. Both of which Charlie just.... loped right out of stride after locking on a few strides out. Yessss.

This horse, guys. It's crazy. I get myself so bent out of shape thinking how much effort the horse has to put into a jump... Meanwhile Charlie's just like, "Hey btw I'm 17h+ and bred from a heritage of incredible athleticism. Hold my beer."

I especially liked how after about 40min of trot sets and hacking, he felt really really really nicely balanced (and game!) for a couple jumps. That, to me, feels really instructional about how I have to plan out his schooling and workload. Plus obvi we're super lucky to happen to have ditches, banks, water, plus jumps, easily on hand for the casual school.

Hopefully we will have more time soon for a proper jump school. Personally my own happy place has been in the 2x weekly range for jumping. But I'm finding with Charlie, he's always the same horse no matter what. And even the 2x monthly schedule seems fine for him. So we'll see. More to come soon tho!

Do any of you find your normal routine shaking up a little bit with the onset of warmer weather? Whether that's by changing ground or newly available trails? Are you starting to do more conditioning now that the option is there? Or maybe ramping up in some other area? Or does your work look pretty much the same no matter the time of year?

26 comments:

  1. Oh that grass! Mine is coming in nice but they are still on their winter paddock. Soon I will start transitioning them over. In the meantime they are not eating hay during the day. Good for Carmen to drop some weight, not so much Irish. I’m insanely careful in the transition but I prefer that. I’ve noticed a huge improvement in Carmen’s canter- much less flail and more balanced from the start. Her medium is actually coming too.

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    1. Past barns I’ve been to have been pretty intense about monitoring the transition - down to hour by hour gradual increases. This place? Not so much. I think Charlie will be fine but he’s just feeling the effects of the change. Sigh. He’s NOT gonna appreciate a muzzle next time around tho for sure!

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  2. So much grass!! I’m glad Charlie is feeling better. Thankfully down here the grass grows year round so there isn’t that harrowing time of transition in the spring. Of corse the summer then comes hot and dry and nothing grows, so there is always a trade off.

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    1. Yea I know what you mean about things not growing any more in the heat - we get that too, kinda in a big way. Which is why it’s so great that this farm has multiple pastures. It kinda sucks to run out of grass half way through the season!

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  3. Holy crap those pastures. That's insane. My horses would be obese in days lol.

    And yep! Those are the kind of trot sets I love. The thrill of traipsing through wood and glen at speed on a horse is like none other.

    We always pick up in the warm months and slow down in winter. We all appreciate the vacation and 2 of the 3 hold their fitness so well that it isn't the end of days coming back into springtime.

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    1. Oh man yea trotting through the woods was so much fun! I used to do it all the time with Isabel but she was a trail machine. Charlie is - less so haha, but he actually really seemed to enjoy it!

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  4. That grass looks absolutely divine. Things are just now starting to green up here in PA and it is so exciting that spring may be here! It's awesome Charlie is playing nice and not breaking himself so you can start riding and doing some jumps again. How nice to have an actual jump lesson again soon? Ha, don't tell Charlie!

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    1. oh man, i'm pretty sure he was breaking himself so much just trying to get out to that grass.... so hopefully we get a little rest from that. tho naturally he keeps it exciting with the bellyaches just for good measure. bc charlie. lol....

      and yes i would love a lesson! none are imminent but hopefully we'll be jumping things soon anyway!

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  5. Oh man Charlie loves that grass! It's amazing! I'd love to get Amber on something like that (with a muzzle because miss hippopotamus) but so glad he's remaining good and still pretty solid getting back to it! I am so jealous of all your trails. Totally wish I had some like that!

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    1. i'm definitely happy to be back at a barn with trails. i didn't realize how much i'd grown to love and rely on them at isabel's barn until we got to charlie's first barn and only really had fairly limited bike paths that weren't actually super suitable for large oafish uncoordinated horses like a certain tb i know....

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  6. Happy Charlie! I love the picture where he’s up to his eyeballs in green grass!!! Hahahahaha!!!

    If I had a regular arena I’d probably keep the same schedule as I do in the winter as far as conditioning goes except be able to ride more consistently. But once summer hits its trail riding in the woods all the time or evening rides to try and beat the heat down here! Though my job ramps up in the summer so I’ve got to figure out how to ride in general… but for sure love just getting out and having nice long trots through the woods!!

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    1. having an arena definitely helps with staying consistent, tho i am finding that lately our rides are kinda split half and half between arena work and going out in the fields or woods. it's nice to have options!

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  7. That is a LOT of grass - holy smokes!

    Right now I am hardly schooling - Luna's belly is proof of it lol. But I am out on the trail lots at least 2-3 times a week. Which means I am only truly schooling stuff on my Friday lesson and the ride before that. Oops !

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    1. eh i mean, that sounds pretty pleasant to me! like yea it's important to keep practicing the proper schooling stuff in between lessons, but there's gotta be balance too, right? lol

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  8. I'm glad he's feeling better! I am definitely enjoying the snow finally being gone here and riding outside again :D

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    1. it's so so so refreshing to be back outside again! we've been out for a little while now and i can't even imagine going back inside the indoor arena any time soon haha

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  9. Hot damn, I want to live Charlie's life in that field. That's a fat kid's dream!

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    1. RIGHT?!?! now if only he would get fat lol...

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  10. I'm a huge fan of training over varied terrain. Ramone was not surefooted but I really think it teaches them that they should pay attention to their feet and what to do next.

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    1. yea definitely agreed. it's crazy to think about how far charlie has come in that department too, even tho he's still not even close to isabel's level lol. when i first got him, even just trotting down a small hill felt life threatening haha

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  11. It has gotten VERY hot where we are so we'll start to see who's really in shape and who's wiped out after 20 minutes (it's going to be me). Seriously though, the summers here are hard on the horses so we'll see if their program changes any

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    1. omgosh yea i'm starting to realize that the heat is maybe even harder on me than it is on the horse... but we do what we can anyway right?

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  12. Love the pics! I's so glad charlie is feeling so well,a nd so up for being a good boy!

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    1. thanks! it's always such a relief when he just keeps on being a good boy!

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  13. Wow. That's some serious grass. He does look happy! If by ramping up the conditioning you mean "walking in bigger circles" June and I are totally doing that!

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    1. dude walking in circles is basically life haha, everything else grows from that, right? lol ;)

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